After receiving the screener for the thriller Alone, released theatrically in September in a limited roll out, I hadn’t planned on reviewing anything but this movie…and this movie…alone. However, the more I watched Alone, the more I found myself comparing it to another thriller I recently caught up on, The Invisible Man, which debuted last February in theaters domestically and internationally.
Both movies are effective, though not inventive, but in juxtaposition, there are a few notes of interest.
Alone is a basic “cat and mouse” movie that hits all the marks one would expect for a story about a man kidnapping a woman—and her attempts to escape. Though the movie doesn’t break any rules, the filmmakers keep you invested and you want to see if the protagonist can elude and then conquer her jailer. But overall, been there done that.
In The Invisible Man, a woman flees an abusive relationship, only to be hounded by the man she left, who possesses a technological marvel: he wears a suit that renders him invisible, which gives him the ability to stalk and manipulate his victim.
Alone and The Invisible Man share the same flow, as well as subtext. In Alone, the woman pursued and captured is mourning the suicide of her husband. The metaphor of the film is her ability (or inability) to grieve. The villain is a stand in for her pain, which she must defeat or succumb to. The Invisible Man’s dramatic purpose was to point out that domestic violence and control never leaves you psychologically no matter how far you run from it. It’s always there, silently, without form.
Alone bears no frills. Its budget is small, its leads not well known. It is well crafted cinematically, not relying on any effects. The story holds up, and you never feel as if the heroine makes the kind of poor choices so many do in horror and thriller fare. The film was released quietly in September, in the midst of the pandemic, quashing any hope for a big return.
The Invisible Man is flashier with a higher budget (though by Hollywood standards still modest). The leads are very well known, if not A-List (Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are above the line). The plot and many of the developments are hard to believe, but audiences didn’t seem to mind as the film was a considerable box office success. The Invisible Man was released in February 2020 and finished its theatrical run before Covid-19 forced shutdowns.
So which movie did I enjoy more? For me the choice is Alone. As stated, it doesn’t do anything new, but it doesn’t need splash or stars to move the story along. In fact, I found the villain, only identified as “Man” in the credits (played by Marc Menchaca) the most compelling character in both films.
He’s a maniac through and through, but his appearance is unassuming. He’s Walter White with a droopy moustache. It would have been nice to know what made him tick (a la Buffalo Bill) but his character’s park and rec persona is enough to give him an air of mystery that pulls the viewer in.
Alone’s simplicity is what makes it work. The Invisible Man gets tangled with logic problems, and if you are easily bothered by plot holes –as I am—it detracts from the experience. This isn’t to say, The Invisible Man fails, but when you open up your story to more characters and more subplots you run the risk of gumming up clarity, and I think this happens a bit with The Invisible Man.
Alone had not the stars, the publicity, the financial success, or any special originality, yet between the two movies it felt smoother and more satisfying for this viewer.